The search for the perfect keyword is the cornerstone of every epic SEO campaign. New search engine algorithm updates may drop every day, but one thing remains the same – the words people use to find products, services, and information.
If you don’t know what people are searching for or use the wrong keywords, your website will be lost in a virtual wilderness, and SaaS brands without traffic might as well call it quits.
I’ve worked with dozens of SaaS brands over the years, including Surfer, Writer, and GetResponse. So I know a thing or two about effective keyword analysis for SaaS. In this guide, I’m going to share some insider tips and tricks these power players use to identify money-making keywords.
I’ll also reveal some of the keyword research techniques we use at our own SaaS SEO agency. Finally, I’ll give you the golden rules to keep in mind while doing keyword analysis.
And here’s a little bonus for all the SaaS Startups out there – you don’t need to break the bank on expensive keyword research tools.
So let’s start by setting the foundation.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the words or phrases people use to find what they’re looking for online. Therefore, keyword research is finding and analyzing these words or phrases.
The goal is really simple. You need to weave these search terms into your website and SaaS inbound marketing content so that your target audience finds you.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Here is a simple fact, if you publish content around what you want to tell customers rather than what customers are looking for, you’re not likely to receive traffic.
This chart from Ahref’s study of over 1 billion web pages shows that 90% get zero traffic from Google. You really don’t want to be among these websites.
So, to ensure a steady stream of traffic, you need a proper SaaS keyword analysis strategy to find the right, high-value keywords to boost your standing in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The higher you rank, the more traffic you attract. The more traffic you have, the more leads you can generate. And so on.
Other benefits of keyword analysis for SaaS include:
- It helps you understand your customers, allowing you to position your brand as a solution to problems.
- It provides actionable insight into trending topics, helping you tailor content ideas and creation.
- It provides insight into SaaS marketing trends, helping you stay current and up-to-date.
With the definition and benefits covered, let’s tackle how to conduct the SaaS keyword research process.
9 Ways to do Keyword Research for SaaS Companies
Keyword research starts with looking at things from your customer’s perspective. What words would your ideal customer use to find your product? Do they mention a pain point?
The nine tips we cover below are going to show you how to uncover great keyword ideas for your SaaS website.
1. Use Google Suggest and People Also Ask
This is one of the most overlooked yet simplest ways to come up with a shitload of keyword ideas. We use the technique all the time for different purposes.
For example, you can use it to find new or complementary keywords and topics to cover. Let’s say we wanted to write an article about SaaS marketing. You simply go on Google and start typing this keyword. The autocomplete feature will show you additional phrases related to your target keyword.
Here’s an example:
There’s more. After completing your search, scroll down to the “People Also Ask” section. There, you will find more topics related to your keyword.
It doesn’t have to stop there, either. You can follow the rabbit hole by expanding on each question from the people also ask section. This will prompt additional questions that you can address in your content.
Additionally, you can scroll all the way to the bottom for more topic ideas.
Here’s another question most SaaS content marketers ask; should I answer those questions or target the keywords within a single article or create a separate article for each?
The answer is so simple it sounds silly. Simply look at what Google wants.
Here’s what I mean.
From the first screenshot above, we searched for “saas marketing strategy,” and one of the suggested keywords was “SaaS content marketing strategy.”
So, to know what Google wants, open another tab and search “saas content marketing strategy.” Now, compare the search results for both searches. Do you see any overlapping content in the results? If the answer is yes, you’ll need to target both keywords with the same content.
But if you notice different articles ranking for each search, you’ll also need to create two separate articles. As I said, it’s so simple it sounds silly. Let’s move on to the next tip.
2. Brainstorm keyword ideas with your team
Brainstorming keyword ideas with your marketing team and customer-facing units (sales and support) is another brilliant way to develop a list of keywords prospects use to Google your product.
The goal is to generate as many key topics and seed keywords as possible, and customer-facing teams have valuable insight into common questions customers ask about your business.
Start the brainstorming process by looking at your products, services, and features. Then ask your customer support team this question – when users reach out with a problem, what phrases or keywords do they use to describe our products?
So, for example, if you are a video streaming SaaS, your team may tell you that users always mention terms like HD video, online streaming, picture-in-picture, screen sharing, etc.
From there, the next natural question is – are these keywords included in our landing pages and blog posts?
We use a similar strategy at our SaaS marketing agency. We have monthly meetings where we get to chat with different departments, including the sales team. This team gives us insights into how our ideal customers describe our services.
From their insights, we know for a fact that our target audience uses terms like “B2B SaaS marketing agency,” “SaaS product marketing agency,” “SaaS content marketing agency,” etc., to describe us. That’s why we target these keywords with appropriate landing pages and topic clusters.
So here’s the deal. Sometimes your content marketing topics for the next quarter are with your customer support team right next door (or in the other Slack channel). So you guys cannot afford to stay siloed.
And do you know what the best part is in all this? These are keyword ideas that you’ll, for a fact, are super relevant to your target audience. I mean, the keywords are coming directly from them, not some random tool.
3. Check customer reviews
Modern software businesses collect user feedback for product development and customer experience. But did you know that direct and indirect reviews contain valuable information you can use to generate relevant keyword ideas?
Reviews show you the words customers use when discussing your brand. Remember, how you speak about your products isn’t necessarily the way your target market does.
Here’s a funny scenario. Let’s say you set out to create a beautiful and super-intuitive project management tool. You made the software and used cold calling to get your initial users. Nice.
However, as more people start using the platform and your G2 reviews stack up, you notice more users calling your platform something else, like “a collaboration platform.”
Here’s the problem with that. If you’re only optimizing your platform for the keyword “project management tool,” you’re probably leaving money on the table. You’ll be losing out on all the qualified traffic from everyone using the other keyword in their searches. You’ve got to fix that.
Now, we understand that gathering and analyzing user reviews is a time-consuming enterprise. So we recommend using text analysis tools to automate the process.
These AI-powered tools offer keyword extraction and classify text by topic, sentiment, and intent.
4. Perform competitor research
Competitor research is another great keyword analysis technique for SaaS brands. Take a step back and ask yourself who your competitors are and what keywords are they targeting.
This is pretty straightforward, actually. Just search for one of your target keywords and look at who else is ranking on the first page.
Let’s use our SaaS video streaming example:
The top three results for the keyword ‘free online streaming’ are Plex TV, Tubi TV, and Just Watch.
With a list of competitors in hand, you will need a competitor analysis or keyword search tool to see the keywords they rank for.
When you enter a rival’s website in a competitor analysis tool like Buzzsumo or Ahrefs, you get a list of their keywords and how much traffic they bring. Repeat the process for the top three or five competitors, and you’ll have a sizeable list of target keywords in no time.
You don’t have to choose the same keywords as rival brands if they don’t work for you. However, you should know the keywords they target. If there is an overlap, these are keywords you should prioritize. Gaps point to keyword opportunities.
5. Use keyword research tools
The keyword research process will become tedious and challenging without the right software. Further still, some of the points covered here, like competitor keyword research, are simplified with these tools.
Whether you choose paid or free keyword research tools, they perform extensive and in-depth analysis, resulting in keyword opportunities you couldn’t think of.
Some of the most well-known keyword analysis tools are:
- Google Keyword planner
- Ahref’s Keyword Explorer
They all work the same; they pull keyword ideas based on your short-tail keyword. These ideas could be matching terms, which contain your seed word, or related terms, which don’t necessarily have the seed phrase.
6. Analyze your Google Search Console data
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool SEO specialists use to monitor and optimize their presence on SERPs. It can help you understand your SaaS marketing campaign with metrics such as referring domains, organic search results, and high-traffic queries and pages.
For keyword analysis purposes, the ‘Queries’ tab under Performance is what you want to pay attention to. Go through the queries to see some of the queries you appear in.
This Queries report shows which keyword drove the most traffic in the last three months. From the list, the top keywords include ‘technical SEO checklist,’ ‘google search URL,’ and ‘technical SEO.’
GSC data provides insight into your best-performing keywords and identifies existing opportunities to improve organic traffic in your titles, headings, and content body.
7. Review your competitor’s paid ads
This is a great keyword analysis trick to get lucrative, albeit competitive, keywords. If your competitor is breaking their marketing budget on a particular keyword, you can bet they’re getting a decent return from it.
But, of course, the drawback here is that these keywords are typically super competitive. So unless you’re also planning on bidding for the same keyword, you’ll need to create a decent piece of content and invest in link building to rank for the same keyword.
PPC analysis tools provide valuable insight into your competitors’ keyword selections, position on SERPs, and content topics. You can also scan their ad copies looking out for other keywords used there.
Even if PPC campaigns aren’t part of your marketing strategy, learning which keywords your competitors are willing to pay for is beneficial. These profitable keywords indicate which search terms are valuable.
8. Check jobs-to-be-done
Jobs to be done (JTBD) is a framework that allows marketers to understand why customers buy their products. The theory states that customers don’t buy products for their functions or features. They buy them to get a job done.
Knowing your customers’ JTBD helps generate various but relevant keywords. Chances are customers use your products for many things.
For example, people use online conferencing tools for business meetings, family meetings, video content production, event hosting, education, and more.
Look at the reach you get by focusing on the target market and how they use the product! You can rank for education, entertainment, business, and personal searches.
To learn your platform’s jobs to be done, brainstorm with your marketing and sales team. Customer reviews and queries are also an excellent way to discover how customers use your products. Alternatively, you could run a user survey and ask them directly.
3 Things to Consider During B2B SaaS Keyword Research
Following the steps outlined above, you should have a decent list of keywords to optimize your content and website. Now, it’s time to analyze and sort their value.
These are the three elements you should use to prioritize keywords.
1. Search intent
When customers enter a search query into search engines, it’s for something specific. You need to understand the intent behind the search, i.e., the type of content customers expect when they use particular keywords.
Understanding search intent is vital because your web pages will only rank for keywords that match users’ needs. Search intent contributes to content relevance, a critical factor in SERPs ranking.
Let’s take the keyword time management, for example. What is the search intent? Is the user looking for tips and tools? Do they want definitions and principles?
If they’re looking for general information and your product page ranks for the keyword, you may get the click, but your bounce rates will increase when they realize the page doesn’t have what they want.
You can’t take keywords at face value. Different users mean different things despite using the same keyword.
So, how do you differentiate users’ intent? There are four types of search intent:
- Informational search – when users want general information about a topic. Examples of trigger words are ‘what is Pomodoro technique?’
- Navigational search – when users search for specific pages or websites, for example, Clockify.
- Commercial search – when users investigate or compare products and services, e.g., best time tracking apps.
- Transactional search – where users are ready to convert. Trigger words include “Clockify discounts.”
Knowing users’ intent will help you identify the appropriate long-tail keywords for different web pages. For instance, use transactional keywords for product pages and informational or commercial keywords for blog posts.
You can verify search intent by typing keywords into a search engine and seeing what pages rank for those phrases. Or you can use SEO tools like Semrush that filter keywords by intent.
2. Search volume
Search volume is a handy metric for keyword analysis for SaaS. Measured as monthly search volume (MSV), it shows the number of times people searched a keyword.
While the goal of SaaS SEO is to take the coveted first rank on SERPs, it isn’t beneficial if it is for a keyword no one uses. High volume or primary keywords mean more people use those words or phrases, thus more search traffic. It also means more competition.
If you’re just starting, I’ll recommend going for keywords with low to mid-range search volume. Some SEOs refer to this technique as targeting keywords that are within your tier.
Essentially, if you only get 1000 visitors per month, target keywords that also get 1000 searches every month. And as monthly volume increases, you can start targeting the keywords in the next tier.
Doing this allows you to rank steadily and without over-relying on offsite SEO.
Also, don’t make the mistake of writing off low-volume or long-tail keywords. They may not drive the bulk of potential traffic, but the qualified traffic you receive reflects search intent.
The chart below shows the relationship between search volume and conversion rates.
Notice that longer keywords yield low search volume but high conversion rates. Therefore, you should use a good mix of high and low-volume keywords.
3. Keyword difficulty
Keyword difficulty measures how hard it is to rank for a given keyword on a scale of 0 – 100. The higher the number, the harder it will be to rank for those keywords. The easiest way to calculate this metric is with a research tool like Google Keyword Planner.
Many factors determine keyword difficulty – search intent, domain authority, quality of backlinks, etc., and research tools will use different signals. For instance, Ahrefs uses the number of linking websites.
Targeting low-difficulty keywords is a good strategy for new websites. Like search volume, it is easier to rank for long-tail or secondary keywords than primary keywords.
Moreover, long-tail keywords are high intent and yield better conversion rates since people using them are at the bottom of the sales funnel.
You can then start targeting more difficult keywords as your website’s domain authority starts to increase.
Believe it or not, but the best keywords are not those that attract the most traffic – it’s the ones your audience uses.
In this article, I shared eight different SaaS keyword analysis techniques that’ll help you identify what terms and phrases your audience uses – from digging through the People Also Ask section and customer reviews to doing competitor research and using keyword research tools.
It’s your play now. Go ahead and follow this guide to generate keyword ideas for your content.
In case you need assistance with your keyword research and content strategy, get in touch with our experts. We’ll do a free SEO audit for you and share some great keyword opportunities and topic clusters to focus on. Book your free consultation with Nico here.
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS marketing agency. He works with enterprise SaaS clients like Writer, Right Inbox, and Surfer SEO, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.